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encouraging female blossoms?

Posted by KristenMarie Z4-5/New Mexico (My Page) on
Fri, Aug 19, 05 at 8:51

Does anyone know a way to encourage more female blossoms on a squash plant? Mine are flowering away for 3 weeks now... hundreds of blooms... and only a handful of female....


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: encouraging female blossoms?

clip the male blooms and sell them. i sold mine for 50 cents a piece.
what varieties do you have?

RE: encouraging female blossoms?

That was my next question, actually - the going rate for squash blossoms. So 50 cents apiece. When do you clip them? The night before, only the blossoms just about to open, or do you clip them when they're already open? Also, does this in any way threaten the fertilization of the female blossoms? (I do have about 10 female blossoms on 12 plants). I'm wondering if there's a reason for the excessive numbers of male blossoms-- maybe you NEED 10 male for every 1 female to get good pollination rates?

This one isn't really for market this year-- just a trial (perhaps for next) -- it's an open-pollinated local heirloom winter squash. Really fun colors- white, green, orange, and every combination of the three.


RE: encouraging female blossoms?

i clipped them in the morning when they are open. i grew costata romanesco for made for some big blossoms.
and pollinization isnt important unless you are growing for seed.
if you're gonna sell blossoms be prepared with recipe ideas.

RE: encouraging female blossoms?

  • Posted by jean001 z8aPortland, OR (My Page) on
    Mon, Aug 29, 05 at 0:55

The first blooms are typically males. After that, the continuing production of males but no females is due to stress. Figure out what's not right with water, light, etc.

RE: encouraging female blossoms?

Just a comment about Randy's statement that you don't need pollination unless growing for seed. That's not really true. There has to be a reasonable amount of pollen transferred to the female flowers of the cucurbits (except the parthenocarpic types) for good fruit shape.

When you see dog-bone-shaped or extremely tapered fruits of squash and cukes, etc., that's usually the result of poor pollen distribution on the stigma. The poor distribution can be the result of inadequate amounts of pollen available, very low number of bee/insect visits, or even rain during the receptive time in the early morning. If there are lots of males, then you could easily harvest some without loss of squash harvest.

As Jean mentioned, there aren't many ways to increase female production. Usually the more you harvest, the more females are produced. Sometimes that even shuts down the formation of male blossoms. Should that happen, you can sometimes trigger male production by allowing female(s) to continue to grow beyond the typical small-harvest-size. In a small planting, one or two of these fruits left on longer may give you enough males for continued pollen production.

At least the larger fruits aren't a total loss as they can be harvested later for making zucchini bread.

RE: encouraging female blossoms?

i think you're right PAveggie. i was reading about pumpkins and how pollination will increase fruits per plant and their ultimate size. its even suggested that bee hives be moved into the area at the time that the plants start flowering. i also read that male flowers usually appear about a week before females. i've heard about moving bees into melon fields so this seems right.

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